If you thought pregnancy was tough and confusing, welcome to motherhood!
Nursing your baby is one of the first ‘new’ things you’ll be exposed to and, naturally, it brings with it a new set of challenges.
Whether you’re planning to start breastfeeding after the arrival of your baby or already are, I hope this article can make things easier for you.
Read on to discover 5 of the most common breastfeeding challenges most mums will face, and quick tips on how you can overcome them!
LOW MILK SUPPLY
Low milk supply has been found to be the number one reason why most mothers end up deciding to bottle feed. This is surprising, considering statistics have revealed that 95% of women actually do produce enough milk to meet their baby’s nutritional requirements.
One of the simplest ways to up your milk supply is to keep feeding your baby regularly. Your baby feeding consistently will signal the body to produce more milk to meet this increased demand. Try offering feeds every 2 hours to begin increasing your supply.
You could also consider talking to your doctor about taking fenugreek or other herbs that boost milk production.
Cracked and sore nipples are another common breastfeeding problem most women will face. The first few weeks are the worst, as your body adjusts and learns the new skill. Soreness and pain could be due to many reasons but the most common one is baby not latching correctly.
When you feed your baby, make sure baby’s mouth covers the entire areola rather than just the nipple. A deep latch is absolutely necessary for baby to be able to get milk efficiently.
Between feeds, you can use a balm or cream to soothe the area and to prevent your nipples from sticking to your bra. I would definitely advise getting one that is safe for baby to ingest (wiping balm from already sore nipples – ouch!)
I also believe that squeezing a little breastmilk onto the nipples and rubbing it in really helped me heal faster.
Engorgement is when breasts become hard and painful due to being too full of milk. Inadequate milk removal is one of the most common causes of engorgement.
During the first few weeks post birth, your breasts will definitely feel heavy and full. As you start to feed your baby, the discomfort should reduce as your body becomes aware of how much milk is actually required.
A simple way to get around this is to demand feed your baby and let them guide you on how often they require feeding. Avoid skipping any feeds and make sure your baby latches on correctly.
Although the discomfort can be hard to handle, try to avoid expressing milk to ease the engorgement. This can confuse your body into believing that extra milk is actually required and the engorgement will continue. If you are really struggling, hand expressing a tiny amount to ease the pain should be fine but try to keep it to a minimum.
Getting your baby to latch onto the nipple correctly is the key to breastfeeding success. If you’re a first time mum, you might have to put in a little effort to figure this one out, which is completely normal.
Experiment with different positions to find what works best for you. Make sure that, when feeding, baby takes the entire areole and not just the tip of the nipple.
Overcoming latching problems is so important to avoid unnecessary pain and there are a heap of great resources online and videos explaining latching in detail.
Leakage is yet another common breastfeeding problem a lot of women face, especially during the first few weeks after birth. The body is still trying to make sense of the milk production and baby crying is just one thing that can trigger the “letdown reflex”. While leaking out a little breast milk is harmless, it can be a little embarrassing.
A good way to tackle this problem is to use disposable or reusable pads that you can place inside of your bra to absorb the excess breast milk. Also make it a point to be regular with your feedings and not miss any.
Ultimately, breastfeeding is a new skill both you and your baby will need time to learn, so don’t be disheartened if it takes a while for you to master it.
Start your breastfeeding journey with your eyes wide open – it WILL be uncomfortable or painful at times and you may feel like you’re failing! Once you and baby figure things out though, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have.
And just remember, if things don’t work out there is no shame in bottle feeding. Let’s all agree right now to support each other and never look down on another mum for any decision she makes around feeding her baby. We are all just trying to do the best we can!